Graves of St Peter’s Church Woolton

St Peter’s Church Woolton,  Liverpool is visited by scores of Beatles fans every day to see the grave of Eleanor Rigby. It is also the final resting place of former Liverpool FC manager Bob Paisley, the only British boss to win three European Cups. In addition to these two notable interments, there are many more worth paying respects to as well.

St Peters Church WooltonThe original St Peter’s Church was built in 1826 using sandstone from a local quarry. It sat 200 but by the 1880s it was far too small for the growing Woolton population. The new 500 capacity church was opened in October 1887 and its ninety feet tower is the highest point in Liverpool.

The grave that most people come to see is that of Eleanor Rigby, who died in 1939 at the age of 44 in the same house in which she was born in nearby Vale Road. Eleanor was a hospital worker and the granddaughter of a local stonemason. When asked in 1984 if the gravestone was an inspiration for the Beatles song of the same name, Paul McCartney responded that it wasn’t, but as he had cut through the cemetery many times with John Lennon it may well have been in his subconscious.

Bob Paisley’s grave is a very humble one, containing the inscription ‘He remained an ordinary man amid extraordinary achievements’. Paisley died of Alzheimer’s Disease in 1996 and buried alongside him is his devoted wife Jessie, who passed away in 2012. Paisley’s son Graham is the present verger of the church.

In the far left corner of the older section of the churchyard is the grave of a hero from the Crimean War. William Sewell suffered a serious head wound during the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava in 1854 and was medically discharged from the army aged just 23. He took a job as a coachman for the Earle family and remained with them for forty years, working for them at Spekelands in Edge Hill and then Allerton Hall. Sewell, who was living in Rose Lane when he died in 1910, is buried in the grave alongside his wife two of his three children.

Members of Sewell’s employers, the Earle family are buried in St Peters Church Woolton too. Sir Hardman Earle, who died aged 84 in 1877, was a director of the London & North Western Railway Company and Justice of the Peace. His eldest son Sir Thomas Earle was Mayor of Liverpool in 1853. He died in 1900 at the age of 77 and was also buried in the churchyard. The Earle family seat, Allerton Hall, is now a pub and restaurant.


Cremated Remains Plots Are Cheaper Long Term

Around three quarters of funerals in the United Kingdom nowadays involve a cremation rather than burial. This compares to just a third sixty years ago. However, along with this move towards cremation, there is also an increasing trend for families to inter their loved ones ashes rather than have them scattered at a favourite spot.

cremated remains plots

It is now common in cemeteries to see whole sections that are only for cemated remains. Unlike with regular burials, urns can be interred at any time after death so families have time on their side to decide on what is the right option. There is no reason either why some ashes cannot be scattered at a special place, with the remainder being interred in a cemetery. By adding a memorial, it provides somewhere permanent to visit and place flowers and have moments of reflection.

Quite often families have scattered but purchase a colonnade niche as somewhere to go and remember them. At Anfield Cemetery for example, colonnade niches can be bought where a memorial plaque can be placed, behind which caskets can also be stored if the family wishes.

In the longer run, buying a plot for the interment of cremated remains can be cheaper than colonnade niches that can often be seen at crematoria. The niches have to be renewed every five however at the cost of £229 (as at August 2018), or every ten years for £456. When you compare that to the cost of £632 for a cremated remains plot that is yours for 75 years, in which up to four urns can be interred, the niches are only cheaper in the shorter term.

Cremated remains plots are not limited to just having a simple headstone installed as a memorial, although its height is restricted to three feet six inches. They retain the scope to have kerbsets and ornaments too and if you are transferring to a plot from a colonnade niche, the original plaque can be added to it if you wish.This provides a spot to reflect with family members inscribed onto a headstone even if the ashes are no interred there.

Three of Liverpool City Council’s six cemeteries – Allerton Anfield and Kirkdale, offer plots that are solely for cremated remains. They provide a place where you can remember your loved one that you can develop to your specifications within their guidelines, that is also of low maintenance.  Sarsfield Memorials provide a range of memorial options for cremated remains plot. If you are considering such a memorial, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your requirements and provide a free no obligation quote.

Headstone Refurbishment

At Sarsfield Memorials headstone refurbishment – bringing worn memorials back to how they looked originally – is just as rewarding for us and our customers as providing new ones.

Image may contain: plant and outdoor

Headstones are made from resilient durable materials. When they look like they could do with some tender loving care, more often than not the foundation and material is sound enough, meaning all that is needed is a good clean by jetwashing then applying chemicals. With some materials, this will involve removing a very thin layer of the headstone to make it as good as new again.

Pictured on the left is a headstone that was underneath trees that has been restored to as good as new. This work has been done on behalf of a local convent.

Depending on the location of the memorial in relation to others nearby, we may be able to do the cleaning at the cemetery but otherwise it is done back at the workshop. There are also occasions where some more re-anchoring may be required to meet modern specifications.

In addition to the cleaning, which is done with great care to avoid any lasting damage to the material, we can also restore your headstone by cutting the lettering deeper or adding new ones if they were originally done that way. An example when this is needed is with a material that has needed sanding, meaning the lead letters may have loosened.

As part of the headstone refurbishment, we can also tidy up the area around any kerbsets or edging stones if needed. This may involve adding a concrete base, which is standard with new installations nowadays, so that the kerbset can not sink. Alternatively, if it is a grave that is not tended to as frequently as when first installed, then it may be more feasible to remove any sunken sets or stones altogether, tidy up the weeds and plant grass seeds.

Image may contain: plant, grass, tree, outdoor and nature

An example of removing stones is shown here too on the right.In this case the family live abroad and only visit every couple of years. By removing the stones, the local authority now have responsibility for the area in front of the memorial and there is no risk of it becoming overrun with weeds.

A good addition to a refurbished memorial is an artificial flower arrangement. We currently supply these at a cost of £8 each to any customer who has work on a grave done with us.

If you are interested in headstone refurbishment, please contact us to discuss your requirements. We will be happy to visit the grave and carry out a full assessment and advise of the options and provide you with a free no obligation quote.


Kirkdale Cemetery War Graves

There are Commonwealth War Graves Commission graves from the First World War located in all six of Liverpool’s local authority cemeteries. However due to its proximity hospitals and the fact that Liverpool was a major port for the embarkation of troops during the First World War, Kirkdale Cemetery war graves are far more varied when it comes to nationality than others in the city.

Kirkdale Cemetery War Graves

Of the 397 burials from the First World War in Kirkdale Cemetery, over a quarter are Canadian servicemen. This is due to a Canadian hospital opening in Westminster Road in 1917, for the treatment of sick/injured servicemen returning from Salonika in Greece.

A large number of the the Candian servicemen died in 1919, many from the Spanish Flu epidemic. Due to the sheer number of troops in Europe that had been brought over a four year period, when the war ended there were literally not enough vessels to take them home, so many were staying awaiting transfer back and got sick. Some of the servicemen were from the Canadian Pacific Railway and their main role was railway maintenance. Amongst other regiments/battalions were Pioneers, who were repairing infrastructure/equipment, and and Infantry.

There are six New Zealand servicemen buried at Kirkdale Cemetery. One of these is Joseph Simotich. who was raised in Liverpool but emigrated in 1913 to live with an aunt and work on a farm in Rotorua. In 1917 he enlisted with the Otago Regiment of  the New ZealKirkdale Cemetery War Gravesand Reinforcements and sailed for Liverpool on board the Maunganiu, arriving on 17th January 1918. Sadly he had caught disease on the ship and died in the Northern Hospital just three days after arrival.

Just a couple of plots from Simotich is the grave of an indigenous Maori serviceman, Rangitauwira Wiremu, a married farmer. He was in the Maori Pioneer Battalion, whose main role was intended to be  construction and engineering tasks, but changed to providing reinforcements for killed and injured troops. Wiremu enlisted in February 1918, sailing on the Ulimaora but getting sick on the voyage. The vessel arrived in Liverpool on 29th March but he died just two days later.  

Five Australian servicemen are buried at Kirkdale, two each from the Infantry and Engineers, and one munitions worker. There are also two members of the Belgian army who died from wounds in November 1914, having been transferred to Liverpool for treatment. Their burials were attended by the Belgian consul and their coffins were draped in their country’s flag and had their helmets placed on them.

The non British burials from the First World War at Kirkdale Cemetery are completed by the graves of Indian and Russian soldiers. John Brewer of the Indian Army Reserve of officers died in November 1918 and Russian naval seaman Morosoff died in May 1917 while his vessel the Varyag was being overhauled at Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead.



A Monumental Mason in Seventy Years Ago

Last month Ursula Sarsfield was meeting a customer in Vauxhall in North Liverpool. She was astonished to be introduced to the clients neighbour who told Ursula she remembered her grandfather James, a monumental mason who founded Sarsfield Memorials in 1947.

The lady recalled hoBlack and white photo of a smart man from the 1950'sw as a child seventy years ago James Sarsfield would drive her and her friends around the block in his car, she had really happy memories of a great man, who she recalled was ‘dead posh but lovely’. For Ursula, who now heads Liverpool’s longest running family run masons, it was a special moment to hear such memories from someone who remembered her grandfather so well. It also got her thinking about how different the working day was of a mason back then compared to now.

One of the biggest differences is how contact is made with customers nowadays. Back in James’s day, there was no internet and very few people had telephones. As such much more business was done face to face or by letter. Nowadays Ursula will always seek to meet the customer face to face to have that personal touch, but after that initial meeting much work is done by phone or email and queries can be resolved a lot more quickly than seventy years ago when letters took a day or two to arrive. Both Ursula and her grandfather have one thing in common when dealing with customers and that is the ability to empathise with, sympathise with and understand their wishes at such a difficult time.

Ursula and James both sought to provide a memorial that would be a lasting tribute to customers loved ones. Seventy years apart though the types of memorial differ in part due to changing perceptions of death and cemeteries. Whereas James was providing much more solemn headstones which were often carved marble, Ursula is mainly using polished granite and the memorial wording is not as formal, also providing images and photoplaques especially for children and babies memorials. The relaxation of cemetery rules and a move towards feelings that memorials are where life should be commemorated rather than death be mourned is in part behind this.

Seventy years ago advertisements were placed in newspapers to attract customer, whereas nowadays the internet is the primary advertising tool for Sarsfield’s as well as recommendations. The world wide web has also allowed Ursula to attract customers from all over the world, with many getting in touch from places such as Australia and Canada asking for restoration or renewal of ancestors headstones. One thing that has not changed however, is the number of customers who come through personal recommendation due to the high quality of service we have always striven to achieve.

When it comes to actually shaping the memorial, there are huge differences nowadays to when James started the company. Memorials where all hand carved James’ son Terry (Ursula’s father) had to serve an apprenticeship at Carrara in Italy before he joined the family business. There, at the home of the famous Carrara marble, he studied all aspects of stonemasonry and traditional carving. Today there are more advanced cutting techniques and laser etching, which didn’t come into being for the memorial business until the 1990s. There are occasions though with certain materials and matching additional inscriptions where only the hand carvedblack and white photo of grand daughter of founder of business method can be used and it remains a skill that Sarsfield’s still use today when required.

When comparing the running of Sarsfield Memorials today to how her grandfather would have done seventy years ago, Ursula sees many changes but many similarities. One of the big advances is from using a horse and cart to transport the memorials to the cemetery. Sarsfield’s now use a motorised van and the Health and Safety of both the mason and fixing of memorials is paramount. Sarsfield’s believe in keeping traditional standards around so they still offer raised lead letters, hand cut letters to more modern sandblasted letters. Ursula is proud to be running Liverpool’s oldest family run monumental mason business and wonders if any of today’s customers will remember her in seventy years?


Celtic Cross Memorials


Some of the grandest monuments in some of Liverpool’s cemeteries for example are Celtic Cross memorials of the 19th Century. One is in Toxteth Park Cemetery marking the grave of shipping merchant Samuel Graves, Liverpool’s Mayor in 1861 and later representing the as a Member of Parliament.

Nowadays, monuments of the size of Samuel Graves’s would be prohibitively expensive for many people, or exceed local authority guidelines on memorial size. However there are a number of options available if you would like a Celtic cross memorial that remembers your loved ones spiritual beliefs and Irish, Scottish or Welsh roots.

An integral part of Celtic Cross memorials is the Celtic knot symbol. This represents life being  part of a uninterrupted, infinite timeless cycle, the rebirth of tCeltic Cross Memorialshe spirit into the next world. The circle that connects the four pieces of the cross indicates eternity.

The Celtic Cross can form part of the memorial, not all of it. Recently Sarsfield Memorials have completed a Sarsfield have recently completed a hand carved Celtic Cross and added it to a black granite headstone, which we also textured around the edge and base (right image).

Sarsfield Memorials is Liverpool’s oldest family run monumental mason and  over the years we have provided a large number of Celtic Cross memorials. Advances in technology now mean that there is Celtic Cross Memorialsa much wider scope and custom designs are far more straightforward to produce.  An example is on the image below left, a two plate memorial we did in September 2017. One plate has a Celtic Cross carved onto it and the other with lettering. Celtic crosses don’t have to be carved, they can be laser etched as well in some circumstances.

If you would like to discuss a having a Celtic Cross memorial for your loved one’s grave, whether it be one of our standard designs or a bespoke one, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss requirements.


Ogee Headstones Special Offer May 2018

Ogee headstones are amongst the most popular designs for memorials today due their size, low maintenance and easy customisation.

Falling well within the size guidelines that many cemeteries now implement ogee headstones are made of polished black granite. This material is extremely durable against the elements and needs very little cleaning.

All Polished Ogee head stone

The shape of ogee headstones, which have a curve at the top, makes them suitable for verses and epitaphs of varying length. When made of black granite, both gold and silver lettering works just as well.

Ogee headstones are also suitable for photo plaques, keeping the memory of your loved one alive or laser etched images, whether they be of  a religious nature or a reflection of the deceased’s career or favourite pastime.

For the month of May 2018 Sarsfield Memorials, Liverpool’s oldest family run monumental masons, are running an offer on ogee headstones . For just £600 we are offering a polished black granite ogee headstone, the dimensions of which are 27 inches high, 21 inches wide and 3 inches thick. The base is 24 inches wide, 12 inches front to back, 3 inches thick, 2.6 inches high and contains one flower container.

The £600 cost for this special offer includes 80 letters, fixing to NAMM standards and VAT. Cemetery fees, which vary between local authorities, are extra. There is also an additional cost for any extras such as photo plaques, images or extra lettering.

For the month of May 2018 Sarsfield are also offering 10% off all memorial cleaning services. Now spring is well and truly here, it is the ideal time to have your memorial restored to pristine condition.

If you would like to speak to somebody regarding the ogee headstones offer, or make use of our 10% off headstone cleaning, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your requirements. Please note that these offers will not apply from 1st June 2018.


Unsafe Memorials Are Owners Responsibility

Unsafe memorials can cause serious injury or even death if they topple over. Many wrongly assume that in such incidences the local authority is responsible, but in reality it is actually the grave owner who has to accept liability.

Unsafe memorials

Two months ago Liverpool city council responded to a complaint about headstones lying flat in West Derby cemetery after it was featured in the Liverpool Echo newspaper. The council explained how in many cases it was impossible to trace the grave owners who were responsible, and that they had been laud flat in line with national safety guidelines.

Over the years legislation regarding unsafe memorials has changed but it is not applied retrospectively. This simply means cemeteries test and push over any unsafe ones, writing to the grave owners if they can be identified.

The current guidelines are that headstones should be able to withstand a force of 70kg, so if your memorial wobble when pushed, it is almost certainly unsafe. This standard was introduced in 2012 and has already been updated a number of times this millennium.  If your memorial is twenty years or older and leans or wobbles when pushed, then more than likely it will not meet current specifications.

Most local authorities nowadays will only allow masons who are members of BRAMM, the British Association of Memorial Masons, to work in their cemeteries. BRAMM members are committed to applying the BS8415 Standard, specifying minimum anchor lengths to ensure safety.

As a BRAMM member, Sarsfield Memorials are able to re-fix unsafe memorials to the current specifications. This involves anchoring into a reinforced concrete foundation, giving you a secure memorial and total peace of mind. We can also clean your memorial for little extra charge. If you are worried about the safety of your memorial, please contact us and we will be happy to  check it for you and provide a free no obligation quote for re-fixing it.


Sir Ken Dodd

Sir Ken Dodd, the last of the great British music hall comedians, has been laid to rest in the family grave at Liverpool’s Allerton Cemetery.

Dodd was born in Thomas Lane, Knotty Ash in 1927. The son of a coal merchant, he attended the Holt School (now Childwall Sports College) until he was fourteen years old before joining his father in his profession. Dodd’s parents were both very supportive of his ambitions to be an entertainer. His mother allowed him to do what he wanted providing he wore a clean shirt and his father bought him a ventriloquist dummy.

Ken Dodd Allerton Cemetery

It was whilst working as a door to door disinfectant salesman that Dodd developed his act, which he then practiced around the clubs of Liverpool and Birkenhead. His professional stage debut was in September 1954 in Nottingham when he appeared as Professor Yaffle Chucklebutty, operatic tenor and sausage knotter. Dodd later reflected that it must have gone well as he didn’t get booed off. By the following summer he was on Blackpool’s Central Pier and went on to spend the rest of the decade appearing in summer seasons and pantomime in summer resorts around the country.

In 1965 Dodd undertook a record breaking 42 week run at the London Palladium, playing twice a night and three times on Saturdays. He also topped the pop charts with Tears and he recorded four top ten hits. He became an OBE in 1982. He wowed audiences with his tales of Knotty Ash, a place of jam butty mines and diddy men. Despite earning enormous fees, he never went on holiday and always tried to avoid staying in hotels always trying to return to his Knotty Ash home.

Dodd was less in demand for television performances by the 1980s but this allowed him to do what he did best; pack out theatres up and down the country. He kept careful notes of all his jokes and where they got the best reactions and his performances could last for four or five hours. At the end of the decade though he faced criminal charges for false accounting, leading to a trial that laid bare intricate details of his private life  which he had fought so hard to protect.

After being acquitted Dodd had a strong of new jokes, such as him not believing he owed a penny to the Inland Revenue as he lived by the seaside. He became in demand for television again and twice recorded ‘An Audience With’. He was given the Freedom of Liverpool in 2001 and continued to perform, saying he wouldn’t know what to do if he retired. He was far more intelligent than he was given credit for, being extremely well read. He could come up with some simple philosophical phrases too that made so much sense, such as not putting off until tomorrow what you can do today, as if you enjoy it, you can then do it again tomorrow.

Ken Dodd Allerton Cemetery

In 2017, the year of his 90th birthday, Dodd finally got his long overdue knighthood. His milestone birthday was celebrated at Liverpool Town Hall, where jam butties were on the menu. In January 2018 however he entered hospital with a chest infection, remaining there six weeks. On discharge he said he was determined to get his legs working again and back on stage, but he passed away on 11th March in the house where he was born.

Two days before his death, Dodd married his long term partner Anne Jones, who he had been with since 1978. His first fiancee Anita Boulin died in 1977 from a brain tumour. Dodd always expressed regret that the couple had never had children together. Floral tributes and cards were left outside Dodd’s home and his horse drawn funeral courtege on 28th March set off from nearby Alder Hey hospital. After a public service at Liverpool Cathedral, he was interred in a  family plot at Allerton Cemetery.




Gertude Langton – St Margaret’s School Liverpool

St Margaret’s School in Liverpool, or St Margaret’s Church of England Academy to give it its correct title nowadays, has been in existence for 139 years. One of its major benefactors was Gertrude Langton, the daughter of a leading Liverpool financier

Gertrude was born in 1835. Her father was Joseph Langton, a former manager of the local branch of the Bank of England, who was appointed the Bank of Liverpool’s first manager when it opened in Water Street in 1831. She grew up in 12 Abercromby Square and in her late teens moved to Paddington in London where she became a teacher in a private ladies school.

St Margaret's School Liverpool

On returning to Liverpool after her father’s death in 1855, Gertrude moved back into the family home with her mother, brother William and servants. When William died in 1876, she was left  the house in Abercromby Square as well as £5,000 in his will, equivalent to over half a million pounds today. Adding this to the income from share dividends left to her by her father, it meant she was financially secure for life.

Gertude never married and dedicated her life to philanthropy, education and religion. She was a generous supporter of St Margaret’s Church in Anfield and when the vicar there Alderman William Preston set up a school, she was one of the first teachers when it opened in 1879. The school has been situated in Aigburth since 1963 and today one of the houses is named Langton.

In the 1880s Gertrude was a benefactor of St Dunstans Church in Earle Road, with her cousin Sir Thomas Earle of Allerton Hall laying the foundation stone. In 1889 Gertrude she donated generously to the Liverpool Rescue Society House of Help in Falkner Street, set up to give temporary shelter to girls who wanted a break from their surroundings and counselling to help rebuild their lives.

St Margaret's School Liverpool

Gertude liberally made donations to the fund for Liverpool Cathedral and was Chair of the Cathedral Ladies Embroidery Committee. The 1911 census has her as ‘living on own means’ with five servants. She died on 5th February 1916 and following a funeral service at the Lady Chapel of Liverpool Cathedral, she was interred alongside her mother, father and brother at Toxteth Park Cemetery.

In her will she left legacies that ensured her servants were provided for and £1,000 to the cathedral fund. Other beneficiaries included the Blue Coat School, Childrens Infirmary and Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge who each got £300.